After scaling back to a weekend-only event last year, the organizers of Rock the Shores decided to once again expand the annual event to a three-day format in 2016, but this time with a TGIF twist. Dubbed “The 7 Mile Social”, Friday’s lineup featured a revue of some of the most popular performers in the Southern Vancouver Island music scene.
Gates to the event opened up at midday, with the first band set to hit the stage just after 1:30 pm. Nascent three-piece rockers Stinging Belle were granted the honour of kicking things off, and were followed up by one of the heaviest rocking bands of the entire festival – Malahat. Combining elements of 70s blues rock with Seattle grunge, the band took us on a rock odyssey punctuated by the howls and growls of lead singer Tristan Savage, who at one point excoriated the crowd for not all having a beer in their hands. He may have forgotten that Rock the Shores is an all ages festival and serving alcohol to a minor could result in a $575 fine (or so the sign in the beer garden says). Most rock stars just don’t think about that kind of stuff.
Violinistextremist Kytami and her crew hit the stage next, with a performance that may have seemed a bit out of place at a rock festival, but got the crowd going nonetheless. Kytami’s traditional fiddle shredding, juxtaposed with pounding hip hop and drum and bass beats was given some added “rock” cred with a special appearance by the shirtless, shiny-helmeted oddball rockers known as SpaceBoots. We then switched gears with a more straight ahead performance from pop-folk-rockers Towers and Trees. Lead singer Adrian Chalifour and his bandmates engaged the crowd, getting everyone to sway to their heartfelt songs about love and loss. Unfortunately for T&T fans, their set was cut short due to a scheduling issue, and we were robbed of hearing the radio hit “Bad Heart” from the group’s last album The West Coast. Unfortunate indeed.
But hey, we had to make way for Band of Rascals. I mean, this is a “rock” festival after all, and it doesn’t get more straight-up classic rock than these guys. Always a delight to see live, the group brought a ton of positive energy to the proceedings and seemed to be genuinely enjoying themselves on the big stage. They were followed up by local music scene vets Jon and Roy, making their Rock the Shores debut. Their performance was a perfect fit, with their signature chilled out, groovy sound keeping the party going, and getting the crowd warmed up for the night’s two headlining acts.
Even during sound check, you could hear the excitement when the crowd caught a glimpse of the “Metchosin One”, Jesse Roper, getting his guitar tuned up to melt faces. The consummate showman, Jesse (shoes off/poncho on) proceeded to tear up the stage with another electric performance. There is zero doubt that the West Shore loves Jesse Roper. And finally, closing out the night were stalwart indie rockers Current Swell. Blending genres from folk to roots to ska, the group features a little something for everyone and is always a crowd pleaser.
And that wraps up The 7 Mile Social at this year’s Rock the Shores. Up next: day 2, featuring Dear Rouge, Big Wreck, City and Colour, and more… see you there.